Monday, September 29, 2008

Parrett Mountain's Red Red Dirt

You know, one day I'm telling you that I'm off to Oregon and California, and short days later I'm telling you I'm back. It would seem unremarkable, except for the interceding bank failures, financial system collapses, and Sarah Palin interviews. Ominous.

Yet if we are doomed, that is our future, not our present. So it's as good a time as any to celebrate dirt.
Coriander at J.K. CarriereYes, it was a great trip. Between a baby shower, a birthday dinner, and sundry visits with friends and family, I only had so much time for wine. But I made a special, specific visit to the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery in the Sierra Foothills — more about this soon — and prior to that, in the northern reaches of the Willamette Valley, I dropped by J.K. Carriere to check out their just-released 2006 pinot and chardonnay, that latter of which is eerily reminiscent of a really good village-level white Burgundy.

But prior to tasting the wines, we — I, my family, and other admirers of J.K. Carriere's natty wines — went to a 700 foot elevation site on Parrett Mountain to mark the groundbreaking of their forthcoming winery and vineyard.

As my sister's dog Coriander (above) discovered, the red Jory soil is the same as you'll find in the nearby Red Hills of Dundee, and it likewise stains your shoes like makeup. Less typical are the many cobblestones here. Winemaker Jim Prosser remarked that he had considered encouraging the formation of a trout pond, but the site is so well-drained that even after a heavy rain there was no runoff collected in the divot at the base of the slope. It's two to four feet down to bedrock across the 40 acre property.

Five years from now, when our economy will surely be back on track, Jim Prosser will harvest the first of his own grapes. In the meantime, we will muddle through, and Jim will do somewhat better than that with fruit from dry-farmed vineyards as diverse as Temperance Hill, Shea, Momtazi, and Anderson Family.

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